Building Credibility with Google Author

by Travis Ketchum · 8 comments

How to setup Google Author

Humans are fickle when it comes to how they respond to authority figures, even if they aren’t really authority figures and just appear to be one.

A classic example of this is the “White Lab Coat Experiment” (Milgram, 1963) where the limits of how far people will go to hurt one another when presented with a perceived authority figure is calling the shots.

If you are familiar with this experiment, the results were simply shocking.

People were compelled to give an electric shock to another individual. Even to the point of (perceived) death, simply because someone wearing a white lab coat told them to.

Now I’m not suggesting that you do anything extreme like this at all, however you have to recognize the power of appearance as a credible authority.

Luckily, Google is rolling out changes to their search results that give you an opportunity to “put on the white lab coat” and be that authority in your niche.

Changes & Google Author

Like it or not, your Google results are changing.

There are plenty of discussions going on about if this is a good things or a bad thing, but either way it doesn’t matter because it is happening.

What you can do as a smart publisher and author though is move quickly to take advantage of the changes in the most positive way possible.

Right now one of the most beneficial ways to do that is be being a verified Google author, otherwise known as “rel=author”.

What Google Author (rel=Author) requires

The official Google documentation is pretty confusing for the average person seeking out how to do this because a lot of the documents reference a Google profile which has been supplanted by their social network, Google+.

So, with that in mind, here are they points you’ll need to know before putting on your gloves and going to work.

  1. You must link to your blog from your Google+ profile (illustrated below)
  2. The website you contribute to must have a link to your Google+ profile on each article you write
  3. When creating the link back to your profile it must be formatted with rel=author & and with a + sign
  4. Application to be verified author and stay informed about changes by filling out this form.

Pro-tip: Use a close headshot on your profile for maximum results.

Example of “Contributor To”

If you have more than one site that you contribute to, then add those sites and repeat all of these steps on each site.
rel=author Contributor To

Example of rel=author

The correct way to link back to your Google profile (which is now pointing to your website) is by using a specific link, with specific text.

Google states that you must include “?rel=author” at the end of your profile URL, and that the text ends with a “+” symbol.

An example of this with my profile (which you must replace with your own profile URL) would be as follows:

Connect with me on
<a href="">Google+</a>

Which as a finished product will simply look like “Connect with me on Google+

Setting up Author Bio’s

The best way (in my opinion) of setting up that special Google+ profile backlink to all of your articles is with an author bio that appears at the bottom of all your posts.

Eample Bio

Travis Blog Bio
Note: It seems like the most popular installations of WordPress do this differently so I wanted to walk you through each of the steps on the most popular installs.

Implementing on a regular WordPress theme

Most premium themes have a place to add your bio to each post, but if for some reasons yours doesn’t there is a free plugin that will take care of that for you.

It’s called WP Biographia and it should make it a snap to do.

Implementing on Thesis

I personally use Thesis here on The College Startup, and it has suited me well. It was one of the first frameworks to really crack open the market in a big way, and I’m sure Chris Pearson is going to surprise us all when Thesis 2 hits the market.

While there are plenty of features out of the box that are awesome, you’ll need to add some code unless you are using the new awesome skin from Kolakube called Marketers Delight 2 (which is what’s running on this blog).

You are going to want to start by adding this to your custom_functions.php

function thesis_author_box() {
if (is_single()) {
 <div class="author_info">
 <h4>About the Author</h4>
 <span class="author_photo"><?php echo get_avatar(get_the_author_id(),96); ?></span>
 <p><?php the_author_description(); ?></p>

Next, add the following CSS code to your custom.css file

.custom .author_info{ padding:5px; margin:0 auto; }
.custom .author_photo{
  margin-right: 10px;
  border:1px solid #DDDDDD;
  padding:10px 10px 5px 10px;

Implementing on Genesis

Probably the easiest of the bunch, just head to your profile section where you fill out the author bio anyway and you should find a checkbox to enable the author bio on posts.
Genesis Bio Checkbox

Checking your work & waiting

Once you’ve added the appropriate links to your Google+ profile and added the author box with the rel=author snippet there is only one thing left to do.

Fill out the official form with Google (which you can find here.) so they know you’ve done what you need to do and you stay up to date on any changes.

You’ll need to give Google a bit of time to re-crawl your site and process the request. However, once that is done you can check to see if it’s correctly setup by checking with this rich snippet tool as shown below.

Google Author Rich Snippet Tool

As you might have noticed, not every single field is shown as “correct”, however the important parts are. Just make sure that your picture shows up and you should be all good to go.

In terms of your picture actually showing up though, nothing is guaranteed. Unfortunately Google uses an algorithm to decide when your picture will be shown and when it will not be shown which from my testing appears to vary between search results and articles.

Hope you enjoyed this lengthy post on how to build credibility by executing on the advantages of Google Author. If you did, please share this post with others by tweeting the following:

I’m using Google Author to add credibility to my posts in search, and you can too. [Tweet This]

About Travis Ketchum
A smart ass marketer who doesn't take no for an answer and always questions the status quo. Connect with me on Google+. Convinced yet? Get more tips and great content 100% free.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Jonny Rowntree February 18, 2012 at 9:21 AM

I hooked up Google Author to my site a few days ago and in the short amount of time, I found that I’ve been getting twice as much search engine traffic from Google compared to the last few months.

Great post!


Travis Ketchum February 18, 2012 at 4:57 PM

I’ve definitely noticed better click through’s of search results as well. The picture is huge for social proof, and people really want to get information from people they feel like they know anyway.

Glad you are seeing similar results πŸ™‚


Stacy February 20, 2012 at 11:20 AM

Thanks for this. All the rest of the tutorials I’ve read were really complicated, and I’ve been looking for one to share with my readers & clients.
Also, I wondered, for my clients that are less tech savvy, have you tried any of the Wordpress plugins that do this?


Travis Ketchum February 20, 2012 at 11:45 AM

Glad you found it useful. I haven’t personally tried the plugin listed above, but I’ve heard that people have used it successfully and it looks pretty straight forward.


Stacy February 20, 2012 at 11:55 AM

Oh, oops! I missed that you linked to a plugin! I’ll check it out. πŸ™‚


Travis Ketchum February 20, 2012 at 4:50 PM

No problem πŸ™‚ Let me know how it works out for you.


Harlan Yee February 23, 2012 at 10:24 AM

This is a super helpful tip! I will be implementing this too! I took a quick look at the wp-biographia plugin and looks like it would work. Although I might go a different route and add my own box.


Travis Ketchum February 23, 2012 at 12:22 PM

Definitely take a crack at making it work, it’s hugely helpful. I saw an article on the other day that showed a roughly 30% increase in click throughs of search results that have the picture next to the content.

Pretty interesting stuff, drop a link once you implement it.


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